We have seen over and over again in recent polls that, for businesses, families and individuals alike, the biggest financial concern right now isn’t the price of gas or the cost of a gallon of milk; it’s the direction–or, perhaps more accurately, the lack of direction–of the country with regard to our financial policies. The record-setting debt and the deficit situation that we find ourselves in is really beginning to hit home, as people are starting to realize that these big-picture economic concerns could potentially have a significant impact on their own financial futures. One big worry is Social Security, with retirees and those approaching retirement expressing particular concern about the long-term stability of entitlements. People ask me all the time if I think they have to worry about losing their social security benefits, or whether they will see a reduction in their payments. Even just a few short months ago, I would have said that that was a worry for future generations, but I think it’s increasingly likely that the current population of retirees will see some cuts in the years ahead. Social Security tax receipts are projected to drop by $73 billion this year, further cause for concern. Medicare is in the same boat. Approximately $100 billion of the $814 billion 2009 stimulus package went to state government coffers to help make Medicare/Medicaid payments! Several states have subsequently instituted payment cuts in Medicaid, an indication that the strands of the social safety net may be beginning to fray.